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TeamsThatThriveHealthy conflict is the catalyst of extraordinary performance. If your church leadership team never has conflict, then something is wrong. Effective teams welcome healthy conflict – and they manage it in such a way that it actually aids the team.

Numerous studies overwhelmingly suggest that task conflict is good, whereas affective, or relationship, conflict is bad. In other words, team members should challenge each other’s ideas, interrogate one another’s beliefs and values, and willingly offer different perspectives while refraining from attacking others in the process, or making snide, sarcastic comments in the process.

Based on our recent study of nearly 150 church leadership teams, we encourage you to cultivate the kind of conflict that fuels great team performances. We found that thriving teams engaged in challenging dialogue. They also cultivated (rather than squashed) healthy conflict significantly more than under-performing teams.

To spur healthy “task conflict” on your team, we suggest that you and your teammates:

  1. Vigorously solicit critiques of plans, decisions and assumptions guiding decision making.
  2. Model respectful, assertive, thoughtful and honest critiques of ministry ideas and plans, and invite others to do the same of your own ideas and plans.
  3. Celebrate group members who say the…

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EXPEDITIONTechnology can either hurt your message (by being outdated and irrelevant) or can support ministry (by being up-to-date and used wisely).  People in your community will find your church, and get their first impression of you, based on your church website.  Your congregation will stay connected with their small groups via social media and will sign up for church events through your church management software.  This ever-evolving use of technology for ministry requires regular maintenance and continuous education.  Thankfully, staying up-to-date doesn’t have to be terribly complicated.

Here are several tips to consider as your leverage technology for ministry:

#1: Store electronic documents on a network or cloud account

Saving church documents onto personal (or even work) computers can lead to significant issues. What happens when an employee who was using a personal laptop for work leaves their job? Would all the documents, records, and template they’d created be lost to your church? What if a hard drive crashes or a computer is stolen? All of that data is gone forever. Store important documents on a central, church-owned location to protect your resources.

#2: To BYOC or not to BYOC?

Will you require employees to “bring your own…

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VacationThe role of pastor is extremely stressful. In effect he/she is never off duty. This long-term stress takes a toll emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Churches that want to keep their pastor for many years must provide him/her with a season of rest. I recommend that all full-time pastors and staff receive a three-month paid sabbatical every six or seven years.

The Battle Wounded …

Consider the following statistics:

  • 23% of pastors have been fired or pressured to resign at least once in their careers.
  • 25% of pastors don’t know where to turn when they have a family or personal issue.
  • 45% of pastors say that they have experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence.
  • 56% of pastors’ spouses say that they have no close friends.
  • 70% don’t have any close friends.
  • 75% report severe stress causing anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear, and alienation.
  • 80% say they have insufficient time with their spouse.
  • 80% believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively.
  • 90% work more than 50 hours a week.
  • 94% feel under pressure to have a perfect family.
  • 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to burnout, conflict, or moral failure.

Time for…

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Extreme SportWhere do you find enough money to start a church during a global recession? Starting a church in good economic times is daunting enough, but starting one now borders on insanity. Insanity or not, church planting has never been a sport for the faint-hearted. In fact, I have always called it the extreme sport of ministry.

But raising money for a church plant may be THE most extreme part of this extreme sport because it takes vision – plain and simple – and a clear way to communicate that vision. Josh Husmann, Lead Pastor of a new church plant called Mercy Road in Indianapolis, raised more money in one day than the average church planter does in a year. How? He clearly communicated his vision at the recent Next Nuts & Bolts Church Planting conference in Ocala, Florida. And left with a $20,000 check.

All conference attendees had the opportunity to enter their Church Master Plans and compete through a series of interviews with church planting experts. In difficult financial times, Josh brought the key elements that unlock finances for a successful church plant.

This equation determines a church plant’s funding capacity:

(Vision +…

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Boba Fett Keeps Me On TrackTime management. Of all the people I know who ever focus on this concept, only a small handful are confident that they’re doing it well. Most of us feel out of control. We feel that our specialty is time mis-management. Why is this so?

I believe it’s because we fail to see the bigger picture. Time management isn’t enough. It’s one small piece. Typically, when we think about managing time, we’re visualizing our to-do list, as if everything on it occupies an equal priority in our lives. When we can’t get it all done, we assume we’ve managed our time poorly.

The problem is, not everything we think we should be doing should actually be done. Some things should actually go undone on purpose. But that’s not the primary reason we can’t manage our time well. The biggest reason we struggle here is that we keep thinking of time in a merely logical way. We see every hour as equal in value to all the rest and there are never enough of them in a week.

There are actually at least four dimensions to managing time well, and we need to understand all…

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Tintern-Abbey-Inside

Church buildings can be a major barrier to exponential growth. Massive building programs are often a waste of money. History has proven over and over that future generations never fill the cavernous temples of previous generations. For instance, every time Spurgeon’s Tabernacle was rebuilt (three times) it was downsized. The list of empty great cathedrals would be quite long. God wants to do something new in each generation. He blesses anointed people, not buildings.

We also need to remember that the period of fastest growth for Christianity was during the first 300 years – when there were no church buildings at all. And today most of the rapidly exploding church-planting movements around the world are multiplying without having physical church buildings. They’ve learned to spread out!

Buildings should be tools for ministry, not monuments. I’ve said repeatedly to our congregation that Saddleback will never build a building that could not be torn down if it prevented us from reaching more people. Churches should focus on building people, not building buildings! (Tweet that!) That’s what being purpose-driven is all about. It’s a people-building process. Build your people before your steeple.

One of the goals we set at Saddleback…

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church_risks_cover_reduced_layers1Risk.  It’s probably not the most fun topic to discuss – no one likes to think about the bad things that could happen to your church.  However, we’ve all heard of churches who’ve had horrible things occur within their congregations.  Natural disasters, financial mismanagement, abuse, or a PR fiasco can derail the ministry God has entrusted to you within a very short period of time.  In light of those facts, it’s simply using wisdom to carefully consider what could go wrong so you can take appropriate actions now to prevent those risks or at least lessen their impact.

This is a topic I’m very passionate about because so many of these risks are preventable.  These events can seriously hurt the people we’re trying to serve and can erode the trust you’ve so diligently tried to earn.  Thankfully, the folks over at Church Community Builder think this is an important topic as well.  We’ve co-authored a new eBook aptly titled, “Are You Putting Your Church At Risk? 10 Potential Threats That Can Derail Your Ministry.”

This eBook is a free resource and is the first in a new series from CCB for Executive…

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Fact: Some congregations chew up pastors and spit them out every 2-3 years. I don’t have a Barna Study or Pew Research Poll to verify that assertion. But I don’t think verification is necessary. We’ve all seen the tragedy of “Monster Churches.”

What leads me to believe it is the church’s fault? Before I get to that, let me admit that it isn’t always the churches fault. I know many men who are just not effective pastors –no matter their congregational context. (That’s a topic for a future blog post entitled “Monster Pastors”).

Having said that, there are plenty of cases where the church undoubtedly has a problem. That is particularly evident in cases where:

  • The problem occurs over and over for a long period of time with a multitude of pastors. In these cases, the only common denominator is the congregation.
  • Pastors leave the church to find warm welcome and fruitful, long-term ministry in another congregation. When this happens, the change in church makes all the difference. The pastor remains the same.
  • The congregation denies that any problem exists at all. Pride is a powerful deceiver.

Once again, I admit that a church may have experienced all three…

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Ready is a Myth

By Deborah Ike

ReadyWhen was the last time you felt completely prepared, fully equipped and totally supplied with everything you needed for a big endeavor? When was the last time you really felt ready?

Maybe I should rephrase that: Have you ever felt completely, unequivocally ready?

No? Well, then what’s wrong with you?! Everyone launching out into the next big thing knows they should wait until they’re completely ready before they move forward, right?

Yeah, I wish… As a project manager and Type-A personality, I would love to find that place of complete preparation. Unfortunately, I think that place is at the end of a rainbow with a pot of gold and a herd of unicorns. I’ve never felt completely ready before launching something new.

Does that mean we chuck all planning out the window and just wing it? No, that approach almost guarantees disaster. Planning and careful preparation are still important, but we can’t place all our confidence in our ability to predict every possible scenario. This is where the powerful combination of faith and planning comes into play. Anytime we feel God leading us in a new direction – whether that’s launching a church, starting…

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Most important church trend of 2015I like reading about trends and I like thinking about long list of church trends. Two of my most widely read posts on church trends include:

This year I want to do something different by focusing on one important church trend. By calling it the most important trend, I want to state up front that I am not building my case with stats. What I do have is 14 years of weekly meetings with church leaders across the country talking about what’s happening in the church.

Specifically, in the last 2 years, I have see one common thread become a common rope. It’s presence is now ubiquitous; every church I talk with mentions this problem when we discuss the Local Predicament in our Kingdom Concept work. (challenges and opportunities expressed in the local culture). I have never seen a problem discussed this commonly amidst a diversity of church sizes and deonominational affiliations.

WHAT IS THE ONE TREND?

Your Most Committed People Will Attend Worship Services Less Frequently than Ever in 2015

What does this mean? Simply that people…

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Saddleback JoyWhen I was a kid, Christmas was a time of forced church attendance and family conflicts with out-of-town relatives. We did not have much, the gifts reflected it, and we did not know enough to be grateful that we got anything at all.

In other words, when Christmas came around every year, my focus was on it being an unhappy holiday. I was not at all concerned with the actual meaning of Christmas—the birth of the Son of God. So, I grew up not liking Christmas much. Then I became a pastor, and it got worse. Maybe that’s you, right now, but in a different way. One too may late nights. One too many critics of the technology. One too may experts on what the church Christmas service should really include. Just one too many….I get it—if you are reading this magazine, you probably are at a church where it takes a lot of work to pull off a Christmas service. As a pastor, I see how hard our team works every week and how much time and effort they put into every last detail.

Hours of work already go into a…

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burnoutYou went into ministry with a passion to serve people and lead them to Christ. You knew that would require diligent work and would likely involve some heartache. We live in a messy, fallen world so dealing with people in their mess and helping them get out of it isn’t an easy endeavor. Working with limited time and resources, combined with the overwhelming needs of your community can wear out the most dedicated individual.

At times, I’ve felt completely unqualified to handle the responsibilities entrusted to me. My to-do list was always longer than the time available and, over time, I was burning out. I cared about the people I was trying to serve, but I had to drag myself into the office each day. Living on caffeine and the adrenaline rush of the next deadline wasn’t sustainable for long. Looking back on that season and combined with what I’ve learned over the last several years, here are five tips to prevent burnout:

Tip #1: Delegate

Delegate to whom? Great question. Even if you don’t have any staff reporting to you, you still have delegation options. You may have individuals within your congregation who could…

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